Sunday, August 31, 2008

The difference between Democrats and Republicans

Justin Taylor highlights this article from Peggy Noonan this week. I thought it was fair and good and somewhat insightful.

By the way, I highly recommend Justin Taylor's blog if you don't already read it. I am interested in about 1/2 of the posts (there are a lot) usually. He highlights things going on in Christianity both theologically and politically, from a conservative perspective. I learn a lot by reading it.

Here is the artical excerpt:

Democrats in the end speak most of, and seem to hold the most sympathy for, the beset-upon single mother without medical coverage for her children, and the soldier back from the war who needs more help with post-traumatic stress disorder. They express the most sympathy for the needy, the yearning, the marginalized and unwell. For those, in short, who need more help from the government, meaning from the government's treasury, meaning the money got from taxpayers.

Who happen, also, to be a generally beset-upon group.

Democrats show little expressed sympathy for those who work to make the money the government taxes to help the beset-upon mother and the soldier and the kids. They express little sympathy for the middle-aged woman who owns a small dry cleaner and employs six people and is, actually, day to day, stressed and depressed from the burden of state, local and federal taxes, and regulations, and lawsuits, and meetings with the accountant, and complaints as to insufficient or incorrect efforts to meet guidelines regarding various employee/employer rules and regulations. At Republican conventions they express sympathy for this woman, as they do for those who are entrepreneurial, who start businesses and create jobs and build things. Republicans have, that is, sympathy for taxpayers. But they don't dwell all that much, or show much expressed sympathy for, the sick mother with the uninsured kids, and the soldier with the shot nerves.

Neither party ever gets it quite right, the balance between the taxed and the needy, the suffering of one sort and the suffering of another. You might say that in this both parties are equally cold and equally warm, only to two different classes of citizens.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Potty Training Update

We've had success. A breakthrough of sorts. We've had no accidents since she got up from her nap yesterday! If you would have told me we'd be at this point yesterday morning, I would have not believed you. Yesterday morning was bad, but something clicked in the afternoon, and we seem to be on the right track. She's even told me a couple of times that she needed to go!

Here are some observations I have about potty training:

1. Potty training is hard work.

2. PT is sanctifying. My patience and perseverence has been tested.

3. PT is hard work.

4. I don't like "motivating" Hopey to do things with candy. It's uncomfortable.

5. PT is hard work.

6. I found that it worked better when I stopped all distractions while she was "trying" on the potty chair. At first she had books, toys, movies, ect, but it ended up working out better for her when those things weren't an option and she had to focus on the task at hand.

6. PT is hard work.

7. If I had a dime for every time I've said "pee pee" or "potty chair" in the last 3 days I'd be a rich woman.

8. Most of all I've learned. I think a lot of it was me learning how to teach someone how to use the potty. I've never done it before. So, she's been experimented on.

So, we'll see when we're ready to venture out in the car. We took a walk last night, but I'm not quite ready to brave a car outing. My friend Julie takes her potty chair everywhere with her and has her daughter go on it when they get out of the car and come back to get in the car. At first it sounded funny, but now I can see how I might be doing it myself :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Potty Training Day #1

The Gear:
One pink Baby Bjorn potty chair.

One portable DVD player to pass the time while we're hanging out in the kitchen.

Raisins as treats for dry unders and success.

8 juice boxes to get things going.

And many new unders for accidents.
She'll be waking up for her nap soon, and things will get underway. I am feeling up to the challenge - we'll see how I feel tonight :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time With God

Hey Friends! I have a few questions for you that I thought might be helpful, enlightening and thought provoking to us all. How do you spend your time with God? When you sit down to focus on God, what do you do? How do you choose where to read in your Bible? What do you study? Do you journal? How do you maintain focus? What has been helpful to you?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: The Reason For God

I finished another book! I know that my season for reading will be coming to an end in about 3 months (when Baby Anna arrives - yes we named her Anna!), so I'm enjoying reading while I have time.

About a month ago, I finished The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller. It came out in February and is written by a conservative pastor in Manhattan. As a side note, before I read a non-fiction book, I always check with trusted sources to make sure it is biblically sound. I highly recommend this book and will tell you why. This is an apologetics book that deals with some of the world's most popular arguments and reasoning against Christianity. I learned a great deal about what self-proclaimed atheists think today, and their philosophical arguments. Now, these arguments would normally be way over my head, but Keller does a great job of describing them in everyday language that is not too dumbed-down. My faith was increased as Keller took apart each argument logically and showed how it is a huge leap of faith for a person to claim there is no God. Keller shows how much of today's thinking is a product of our Western culture by contrasting it with the thinking of other cultures. He is also pastoral and often brings the argument back to the gospel, showing the beauty of a humble faith based on the death of Jesus for sinful man.

The first half of the book is called "The Leap of Doubt" and deals with topics such as "There Can't Be Just One True Religion," "How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?," and "The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice" among many others. The second half of the book is called "The Reasons for Faith" and deals with topics such as "The Problem of Sin," "The Clues of God," and "The Reality of the Resurrection." I would highly recommend this book for Christians and non-Christians. My eyes were opened to a lot of the folly that the "wisdom of this age" has to offer. Their arguments can seem strong and very intellectual at first glance, but Keller is able to use their very own arguments to show them how they are taking a leap of faith themselves in believing them. There are a ton of great quotes from the book, but I'll just share a few below:

In the Introduction Keller says,
"But even as believers should learn to look for reasons behind their faith, skeptics must learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning. All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs... If you went to the Middle East and said, 'There can't be just one true religion,' nearly everyone would say 'Why not?' The reason you doubt Christianity's Belief A is because you hold unprovable Belief B. Every doubt, therefore, is based on a leap of faith."
On Suffering:
"With time and perspective most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn't it be possible that, from God's vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?"
On "Christianity is a Straitjacket:"
"One of the principles of love - either love for a friend or romantic love - is that you have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy. If you want the 'freedoms' of love - the fulfillment, security, sense of worth that it brings - you must limit your freedom in many ways... Human beings are most free and alive in relationship of love. We only become ourselves in love, and yet healthy love relationships involve mutual, unselfish service, a mutual loss of independence."
On "The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice:"
"Think of people you consider fanatical. They're overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive, and harsh. Why? It's not because they are too Christian, but because they are not Christian enough... Because they think of Christianity as a self-improvement program they emulate the Jesus of the whips in the temple, but not the Jesus who said, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
On "How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell:"
"Our culture, therefore, has no problem with a God of love who supports us no matter how we live. It does, however, object strongly to the idea of a God who punishes people for their sincerely held beliefs, even if they are mistaken."

"In short, hell is simply one's freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity."
And again, many more great quotes including a great breakdown of evolution and its great weaknesses. I now have arguments and thoughts on topics that I knew almost nothing about before I read this book. It was an encouragement. If you have the time, read it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday, Hopey!

Sunday was Hope's 2nd birthday. We spent all of Saturday in downtown Chicago with Mom and Robin and had a great time. We went into the American Girl store just to look around and see if Hope would like it yet, and boy did she. So, we got her an American Girl baby doll. When we asked her what she wanted to name her, she said "new baby." Thankfully we got it on camera. It was a special way to spend her last day as a 1 year old. We took an architectural boat tour on the river, hung out at Navy Pier, ate Giordanos pizza, and took the train from the station near our apartment. Sunday, we did her favorite thing and went to church. Then we had butterfly cake and opened presents after having breakfast for dinner (one of her favorites). We love her so much and are so thankful for all the joy she brings to life! Here are a few pictures of the last 2 years:

1 1/2 weeks at her baby shower. She slept sweetly through the whole thing.

At one year old, not yet walking, but learning.

On Nannie and Papa's porch in Dunsmuir last month. It is hard to catch a good picture of her these days since she moves around so much and doesn't smile for pictures well.

Over the last year she's: learned to walk, started talking (a lot), grown a lot of curly hair, and moved to a new state. We are so proud of her and can't wait to see how she will grow this year.

Happy Birthday, Hope! We love you so very much.